The Black Flag – Why is Iraq Ablaze?

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‘I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won’t last any longer than that.’- Donald Rumsfield (2002)

Dear Reader,

I hope you have kept up with the news on the Iraqi situation, defined by blood, violence and extremism on all sides; it seems hell itself has manifested itself, again, for the poor Iraqis. Suffering the chaos and sectarian violence of the U.S led occupation that led to the deaths of up to million civilians, they must again undergo the turmoil of  crimes against humanity, as terrorism and state violence once again erupt.

‘I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American. Iraqis will write their own history and find their own way.’ – George W. Bush

America has often attacked and coerced nations that behave contrary to their own interests, and such, in their attempts to dominate the politics of the Middle East; they led the invasion of Iraq. Under the guise of removing and destroying ill-gotten WMDS (weapons of mass destruction) belonging to Saddam Hussein, they led a brutal campaign utilising violence and torture, prolifically, to secure their own oil interests in the nation. A war of aggression is unjustifiable and actually criminal under international law. The conflict was very deadly and in the city of Fallujah, American forces used the , illegal , chemical weapon white phosphorus, and also carried out massacres and crackdowns on protests. The Ba’ath party (an Arab socialist party) which Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, belonged to, was annihilated and its members were all and completely removed from any position of relevance in the government. This concept of de-baathification, that the Americans believed would make Iraq more compliant to their interests, worked out terribly for the people of Iraq, who no longer had a functioning government to look towards. There was great difficulty as the Interim government grappled with the lack of any experienced former officials, as well as, facing American pressures to embrace the ‘free’ market and submit themselves to neo-colonialism.

‘Divide et Impera’ (Latin for Divide and Conquer)

The nation, which had previously been known for it sense of national consciousness and unity (in a dictatorship, you know where you stand in society) was violently up-rooted and amidst the murders and conflict became sect conscious. The Sunnis, Shias, Yazidis and Kurds, as well as, many tribal groups all decided to pursue their own interests, as the Iraqi state fragmented and became more sectarian. Nouri Al-Maliki came to power during the ‘free’ elections in Iraq, whilst the nation was still under American occupation. A notorious anti-Saddam dissident, he was also a Shia; a minority sect of Islam in Iraq. His neoliberal policies, lack of independence from American interests and consolidation of power in strictly Shia hands, alienated the Iraqi masses. Terrorism and insurgency continued bigger than ever, as groups such as ISIL (The Islāmic State in Iraq and the Levant) and Al Qaeda in Iraq increased their operations to topple the new government and ignite Sunni-Shia War.

“The desired Islamic state might be likened to an orchard planted with olive and palm trees that will take a relatively long time to produce fruit.”― Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

Through tactical brilliance and ‘advanced military leadership’, the Islamic State under Al-Baghdadi has risen to prominence in Northern Iraq. Managing to take large swathes of land from both Syria and Iraq, with a military described as ‘highly skilled’ in ‘urban guerilla’ warfare, it has proven itself a formidable faction. The rapid growth and successes of Islamic State, not only demonstrate, its own international and domestic support but also the fragility of the Iraqi military, which, the face of IS’s approach, simply fled; leaving vast quantities of technologically advanced weaponry to the militants. It has been rumoured that many of the gulf states have financing their operations, but it is also likely that their acquirement of lucrative oil-fields and robberies of banks in Mosul may have also contributed highly to their effectiveness.

‘When all is said and done, the real citadel of strength of any community is in the hearts and minds and desires of those who dwell there.’ – Everett Dirksen

Time and time again, in Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Cuba and Afghanistan, history has dictated that using brute force to solve a societal problem is a foolish idea and an unsustainable solution and as such, without a credible alternative for all factions involved, Obama, simply, ordering air strikes cannot contain the situation. Islamic State isn’t simply a stain to be scrubbed away, they represent a Sunni nation hostile to the Shia government of , formerly Maliki and now, Abadi and a strand of extremist Islam that has found fertile ground in the marginalised, impoverished regions of Northern Iraq. The threat of religious fundamentalism upon societies, economies and the masses is real but always linked to economic progress. As societies become safer, growth increases and development occurs, people stop looking towards religion, and the metaphysical as an answer to their problems, but rather rationalism and secularism. Iraq is a nation in crisis, that cannot be fixed by any foreigner with any foreign agenda, the working classes and people of Iraq must do for themselves, the necessary steps to freedom from illiberal democracy and theocracy.

Thanks for your time,

Tito Mogaji-Williams

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Right to Riot.

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 “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy ( American President)

Dear Readers,

Do you ever feel as though life is just irrelevant, uncaring towards anything and everything? But then, you notice something that really angers you, an injustice that riles you up so intensely that you feel completely enraged. Whether the matter is environmental degradation, police brutality, corruption, or class struggle; we all have something we feel that we must protest for. To carry out this, it has been taught to us that the only, morally correct, legitimate means of protest is legal, peaceful protest. In education and the media, the idea that riots or violent protest can ever be successful is completely disregarded (except when the country in question, happens to be Ukraine) and we are immediately told the correct means to change the world is by following the examples of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi. We are also told that we should contact our MPs, write a petition, try simple ‘clicktivism’, or wait a few years and use our valuable votes to achieve our goals.

‘If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it’ – Mark Twain ( Writer)

But is that true?

In the wake, of the Ferguson Riots in America and the approaching Notting Hill Carnival, We must remember that this country is no stranger to riots, the wide-scale protests that engulfed London in the summer of 2011 showed a side of working classes unknown since 1984. The devastation and looting instilled real fear in the ruling classes of the U.K but also left many hurt and injured. Similarly, the Notting Hill Carnival was envisioned as a non-violent against police brutality; it began as an alternative to the running battles between youths and the police and although it has been claimed as an example of multiculturalism, it is an example of protest. This reminds us of other means of protest such as the riot, rebellion or revolution. Can it not be said that they are the most democratic means of protest; allowing direct involvement of the people in their own struggle, the raw animalistic fury is often the truest representation of a people’s will.

To decide where young people stand on the matter. I asked a few young people their own views on the matter.

Humzah-16   ‘ Violence and riots are better simple because they gain more valuable attention for a cause than quiet peaceful demonstrations’ 

Hanifa – 17, ‘Violence is bad, even if it gets attention. Not the best way to persuade world leaders to make changes. Do a Gandhi and be peaceful’

Shivani -16. ‘A riot can only be successful is the people taking part are aware of the struggle they are fighting for and don’t take advantage of the chaos for their own interest.’ 

Ryan -15, ‘ Some would argue it’s very hard to exact change without some sort of direct action of some sort’

Eve – 18, ‘ The reason people resort to riots and violent protest is because any other form of proper protest, peaceful or otherwise is quashed and/or controlled by the police and law, meaning the message is lost. Protest is not covered and isn’t publicised is because by allowing the working people (the proletariat)  to see their fellow-men rebelling against the rich could probably incite wider rebellion.’

These are the surprising answers I received, or rather, not surprising considering the youth have often been on the crappy end of governmental policies. To conclude, we must be aware of the power of protest and ultimately the power, that we, the masses wield when unified and enraged by a matter. Whilst, there are many successful means of protests we must accept that all types (revolution included) are valid means of changing the world.

 Thought I might leave this to you…(I predict a Riot)

Inspired by this tweet –

Echoes of the Past.

“Palestine is the cement that holds the Arab world together, or it is the explosive that blows it apart.” – Yasser Arafat (Palestinian Leader)

Under relentless military and political onslaught, the nation of Palestine cries out for justice, its tears have flooded our media and its blood has drenched the soil of the Middle East. The Israeli government has launched a merciless military campaign, named ‘Operation Protective Edge’, for the subjugation, oppression and genocide of the Palestinian nation. Just yesterday, the ceasefire and accompanying political dialogue came to a much expected halt on the 8th of August. Palestinian cries for an end to the ‘apartheid‘ and illegal occupation of their lands, were met with Israeli demands of a ‘demilitarised’ Gaza strip. Both demands call for a radical change to the situation, but just what constitutes justice for the mountains of corpses is a question that must be addressed.

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‘It is because I recognize the brutality with which my own multi-branched ancestors have been treated that I can identify the despicable, lawless, cruel, and sadistic behaviour that has characterized Israel’s attempts to erase a people, the Palestinians, from their own land.’ – Alice Walker (Activist)

 

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Whilst blood has been shed on both sides and the mountains of bodies just keep growing; the actions of the Zionist Israeli state have been tantamount to a war crime, as defined by the International Criminal Court. Massacres, bulldozing of homes, human shields, Israel has committed all these crimes with a fascist indifference to the sufferings of their victims. These terrible war crimes go on with the full agreement and co-operation of western ‘democracies’ with the United Kingdom and the United States as notable examples. David Cameron, (British Prime Minister) announced his support of ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’. Defend itself from what I ask? Defend itself from a nation without so much as a military but rather civilians who dare to defy its occupation. Barack Obama has signed a military aid package entitling $225 million dollars to the poor Israelis, probably to go with their large gift of military equipment.

 

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” – Nelson Mandela (South African Leader and Anti-Apartheid Activist)

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But, with Israel continued brutality on the people of Gaza, the world has not ignored their plight. On August 9th,  simultaneously and internationally, rallies took place globally in support of the Palestinian struggle, hundreds of thousands of people announcing their solidarity with the Palestinian cause.150,000 people marched in London, the whole city centre becoming a forest of Palestinian flags and chants of ‘Free, Free Palestine!’ almost shaking the earth with its enormity. Campaigns organised by a diversity of socialist and other leftist organisations, the Stop the War coalition, Friends of Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. In South Africa, 40,000 people marched in Johannesburg, a people oppressed under apartheid, rallied alongside Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu and other anti-apartheid icons, to express their solidarity with the struggles faced by the people of Palestine. Bolivia, in their outrage, have deemed the Zionists to be a ‘terrorist state’ and is the vanguard in taking Israeli war crimes to the international criminal court. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ campaign, a movement to inflict economic hardships on Israel, has created an app and already has 350,0000 supporters. The , rather tepid, U.N general secretary Ban Ki Moon dared called Israeli bombings of schools, a ‘criminal’ action with the implications that Israel has committed a war crime. And more direct actions are occurring as Palestine Action occupied an Israeli drone factory and held it for several days, to highlight the issue of British Co-operation with the Israeli government.

 

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’- George Santanyana (Philosopher, Writer)

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The actions of Israel have often been compared with similar such policies pursued by the Nazis, the apartheid regime in South Africa and European colonialism.  Why? Because the Israeli tactics in subjugating Gaza, often involve the profligate usage of propaganda to further their agenda and promote for their land theft. Large-scale victim-blaming occurs as Palestinians are blamed for not evacuating their homes after Israel dropped warning flyers, despite the city being one of the most over-crowded in the world. Usage of propaganda to dehumanise a demographic was a tactic used most notably by the Nazis against the Jews; the usage of blood libel claims and pseudo-scientific dogma to engender hatred is being seen once again in Israel, albeit, with the Palestinians as the latest targets. The word terrorist, with all that it evokes, is used to disparage their victims, alongside cries that criticism of Israel is the same as anti-Semitism. We must address propaganda, where it rears its head, especially when it is used in conflict where the lines of ideology and self-interest blur

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing” – Malcolm X (Black Nationalist)

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So far large swathes of the western populace have believed the Zionist lies, estimates that two thirds of young Americans aged between 18 and 29 approve of the ‘Israeli right to self-defence) just serve to display the powerful influence of ideology on our mentalities. But that does not mean to say, that we cannot be freed from mental domination. Just as, humanity rose up against fascism, rose up against imperialism, and rose up against apartheid, the embers of the Free Palestine movement are growing exponentially, and a world of Palestinian liberation is possible, if we seek it.